Parliament in session. (IWN file photo)

The Government is slated to go to Parliament on Thursday to ask legislators to approve loans totalling EC$208 (EC$1 = US$0.37) million for the construction of the Argyle international airport, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says.

Eustace, speaking on his weekly radio programme today (Monday), said the Finance Committee, which comprises Government and Opposition lawmakers, will consider the bill tomorrow.

“Of course, the Finance Committee is majority government. It (the Bill) will go through,” he said.

“I was so shocked on seeing this, I thought I saw 208,000 [dollars]. I found the thing unbelievable so I started to look at the various items that could make up all this amount of money,” he said,

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (File photo)
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (File photo)

Eustace said the Bill — Supplementary Appropriations No. 4 of 2013 — is the largest he has seen in his 15 years as a parliamentarian.

Of the $208 million, $3.5 million is for Ministry of Finance.

The other $204,799,000 will go to the Ministry of National Security, Eustace said.

Of the $204.8 million to be allocated to the Ministry of National Security, $56 million for the continuing construction of the Argyle international airport is to be raised from the sale of Government assets, namely 58 acres of land in the Southern Grenadine island of Canouan.

Some $2 million is expected to come from sale of Government shares in the Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Another $107,200,000 is earmarked for the continuing construction of Argyle airport.

The Government will ask legislators to approve borrowing from Mega International Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. in Taiwan, another $26.8 million to provide funds for the construction of airport.

A loan of $14.69 million for the airport will also come from the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada.

A further $3.5 million will go to meet the debt services associated with new borrowings of $148 million for the Argyle airport

“You hear what is going to the Finance Committee tomorrow?” said Eustace, a former Minister of Finance.

“None of these were put in the budget. They are now being brought forward as supplementary to the budget we approved a few months ago. So, our budget jumps up from 700 and something million [dollars] to 900 and something million [dollars],” he further stated.

Parliament in January approved a budget of $799.1 million for this year.

“What is the point of the budget really? So, you spend an additional 208 million [dollars] — every cent to go to the airport, including interest we have to pay on those things. You see where we are? We talk about the finances of this country all the time, people don’t want to hear — some people,” Eustace said.

He said that when he saw the document Monday morning, it “nearly shocked the life out of me.

“I couldn’t believe it. It is to go to the Finance Committee tomorrow … and when I looked at it, I really could not believe it,” he said.

The Argyle international airport, the largest capital project in this nation’s history, is budgeted to cost EC$652 million.

It is slated to be completed by early 2014 and become operational later that year.

Government senator, Julian Francis, last week rebutted in Parliament “this myth” that he had said that the airport would have been constructed debt free.

He said a recording of his statement was edited to omit his explanation.

 (IWN)

 

2 replies on “Parliament to debate $208 million in loans for Argyle airport — Opposition Leader”

  1. It is pretty obvious that we are financially in dire straights, we are totally broke, yet Gonsalves wants to borrow more and more, and more.

    I just hope that lenders realise there is a good chance they will never be repaid, perhaps even more than a good chance.

    It will get even worse, because even this is not enough money to complete the project. I have done some simple sums and it doesn’t stack up, not at all.

    I wrote a few days ago a piece ‘ARGYLE AIRPORT, 10 BIG 400 SEAT JETS A DAY, REALLY, IS THAT POSSIBLE? ‘ Written from researched fact it will expose much about what is going on. Lets hope that IWN publish it soon.

    I have looked at the 2009 speech that Gonsalves made at the NIS conference room.

    Under the heading ‘How is all this being Financed?’ Gonsalves told us “Financing of this airport project is not for the faint of heart; it requires a combination of courage, sound policy, creativity and steadfast commitment“.

    Continuing he said “When I elaborated this airport plan on August 8th 2005, I explained then that we will finance the airport with a mix of money from my government, and a large amount of grants from other friendly governments“. “To date, the financing plan has unfolded in very much the way I laid it out then“.

    Not in 2013 it hasn’t, not at all, nothing like it.

    He told us “ funds from my government, and a large amount of grants from other friendly governments”.

    To quantify the investment “from my government” he said “You may recall that my government’s contribution to the Argyle airport project came mainly from the sale of Crown lands vested in the IADC“. “IADC in turn appointed National Properties, a wholly owned government company to sell these lands on its behalf“. “The funds raised from National Properties’ land sales activities are to be used by the IADC to purchase the properties and vacant lands on the airport site, and to meet other project related expenditure“.

    Again not even a hint of borrowing money, not a hint of involving the NIS.

    He said nothing of borrowing millions upon millions for the project, not a word about that. Where are all the grants from friendly governments? WE must ask again have we been lied to, over and over again, because as far as I am concerned to omit telling us the whole story, that is tantamount to telling us lies.

    Every man woman and child now owes about one million a person.

    Then having got all that money the IADC failed to pay the 60 land owners for their lands. Here we are in 2013 and the original land owners remain unpaid.

    The country is stone broke and the Taiwanese are running frightened that unless they heave up more and more money, the Chinese government will take their place .

    As far as I am concerned we have been well and truly screwed, it all over, we are done for. I doubt there was ever ‘a coalition of the willing’.

  2. TeacherFang says:

    Gonsalves is bleeding the county dry to build AI,so that he can burnish his legacy.But no water can wash off the stench of a disreputable riddled tenure in office.

    Now why didn’t Gonsalves go to these lending institutions in the first place and get all the money upfront, well at least the majority, rather than going around the place begging all tom dick and harry? So, now that the coalition of the unwilling has ignored Gonsalves…and his cash-cow gone to the great beyond,he is now forced to come up with conventional ideas to pull his arse out of political fire. One of these ideas while not so conventional,is an option open to a Government.The selling of state lands is always a touchy issue with the locals and rightly so; taking the country’s prime real estate to sell off to foreigners is always cause for concern…just now we will need a passport to go to the Grenadines.

    Did someone say 2014 for the completion of AI? Really? More like 2016…all this changing of the completion date is so […] lame…why not just give a realistic date where folks could say ok, that sound reasonable…but you can’t be lying so barefacedly, when a five year old could have told you that the airport couldn’t be completed by the previous mentioned dates given by this Administration. Now we are hearing “early” 2014….that’s next year folks…half of the year already gone…has anyone taken a look at the site? Maybe they are speaking of the Terminal building being completed by “early” 2014…not the entire airport. But time always make a fool of man, so we shall see who the fool this time next year.First we heard 2012, then 2013, now it’s 2014…Can the Gonslaves Administration complete a hat trick of improbable completion dates? I say yes, the hat trick is as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow.

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